A Dales pub says it lost thousands of pounds on what should have been the busiest day of the year after a road was closed without warning.
The owners of the Tan Hill Inn have complained after North Yorkshire County Council contractors shut a stretch off the road from Reeth into Arkengarthdale on My 25, the day of the historic Tan Hill Swaledale Sheep Show, for surface dressing,
County council officials say the community was notified in advance of the closure and a clear diversionary route was in place.
But Mike Peace, from Tan Hill, said in a letter to Upper Dales county councillor John Blackie that the show takes place on the last Thursday of May every year and officials should not have shut the road without warning.
He added: “Thursday was probably the finest weather day for the sheep show in living memory, yet our turnover was probably some £2,000 down on what we would have expected compared to a normal sheep show with wind and rain.”
He added: “The first we knew was when some visitors arrived hours late complaining bitterly – the closure notice was not even at the exit of the road adjacent to the Buck Hotel but at the cattle grid where people had to then turn around – we understand this was later moved – there were no ‘businesses open as usual’ and diversion signs.
“We all understand that maintenance must be done, but must be done in conjunction with the businesses in the area whose livelihood depends on the road to deliver the tourists to our doors and moreover pay their taxes to the local authorities for the benefit of their services.”
A North Yorkshire County Council spokesman said in response: “The roadworks were part of our extensive surface dressing programme across the county. They were operated on restricted hours of 9.30am to 3.30pm and a clearly signposted diversion was in place.
“Ambassadors were stationed at either end of the roadworks to assist motorists and to help with peak hour flows and home-to-school transport.
“Advanced notification signs had been placed on site and a letter and leaflet drop was also undertaken to the properties within the closure area.’’
John Blackie said he would raise the issue at this week’s North Yorkshire County Council Richmondshire area committee.
He has called for highways officials to do more to communicate planned road closures with residents and businesses, and improve signage when roads are shut.
Cllr Blackie said he asked Highways to erect diversion signs for the work from Reeth which would have taken drivers to Low Row and over into Arkengarthdale.
He added: “It is more than a disappointment to see that this signage was not put in place and instead the signs saying the road was closed were only initially erected at the Cambridge House cattle grid.
“Clearly North Yorkshire County Council Highways must take up this issue with the traffic management company, the contractor used to sign the closure.”
He said the council had also failed to notify local parish councils of the closure, which may have alerted the communities to the clash with the show.